“The administrations pose a lot of problems and the work is very sacrificed”

About fifteen people traveled this Saturday part of the Lligallo Major, one of the most important cattle routes in the Iberian Peninsula. They did so within the framework of the II Congress of Transhumance and Livestock Trails held in Amposta, which, among other objectives, aims to integrate the gender perspective in livestock farming. The outing served to meet Maria Cinta Octavio, the last active shepherdess in Tortosa with a herd of 500 goats. Now, he considers that the situation in the sector has worsened. “The administrations pose a lot of problems and the work is sacrificed, it is difficult to find people who want to devote themselves to this” lamented Octavio. At the end of the month, Igualada will host the last days of the congress, focused on the preservation of the territory.

The departure of this Saturday is part of the second day of the II Congress of Transhumance and Cattle Trails. The congress, which lasted three days in Amposta, made it possible to share successful international initiatives and the benefits of extensive livestock farming to guarantee a quality agri-food system and manage the natural heritage of a territory. At the same time, he also focused on the role of women in this primary sector and on the generational change that guarantees its sustainability.

Beyond the gender perspective in livestock farming, the conferences also addressed other issues, such as the survival of the sector. In this line, the IDAPA technician, Marc Borrell, pointed out to the ACN that in Catalonia there has been a drop in the number of cattle heads in recent years, but that it is less marked in the case of transhumant herds. “Raising cattle in the mountains is an opportunity. The shepherd has a little more leeway and for three months he can devote himself to other work in the fields. In addition, the cost of the mountain is less than the maintenance of a house,” he pointed out.

An outing to discover the last active herd in Tortosa
One of the herds that was nomadic until forty years ago was that of Maria Cinta Octavio. She is the last active shepherdess in Tortosa and, together with her son and several workers, she currently takes care of a herd of around 500 goats. Since she was little, Octavio has devoted herself to animals, whose meat they sell. Now, at 77, he bemoans the rising costs of things like animal feed and gasoline. This is a price increase that has not trickled down to the sale of meat and which, according to complaints, is stifling the sector. For Octavio, in this context “it is very difficult to find people who want to do such a demanding job”.

This Saturday, about fifteen people visited the shepherdess, after crossing one of the cattle trails that connect the Alentar corral. Throughout the course, participants were able to become aware of the importance of these routes, not only for extensive livestock farming, but also for society and biodiversity as a whole. Precisely on this route there are many ponds that serve as a supply for the goats, but at the same time they represent an ecosystem for other species such as some amphibians present in the area.

With the aim of recovering cattle paths and creating social awareness, the member of the trails committee of the Federation of Hiking Entities of Catalonia, Jordi Buxonat, appeals to the administrations to get more involved in this task. “Many lligallos are abandoned and dirty, cattle tracks are the only ones with a protection law because they are considered ecological corridors,” Buxonat pointed out. Therefore, he proposes to open the roads to other uses to ensure conservation.


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